Several high level visits are scheduled to take place to South and Central American countries this month. During the visits the focus is going to be on reviewing the progress on the bilateral relations, space cooperation, defence exports and enhancing trade with the countries.
The first visit is scheduled to take place later this week when the new minister of State, for External Affairs and Culture Ms Meenakshi Lekhi will be travelling to Colombia accompanied by senior officials.
“During the two day visit starting Sept 3, the focus is going to be reviewing the bilateral relations between the two countries and exploring ways of further enhancing defence and security cooperation,” sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online.
The minister will be meeting with Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez, who is also looking after the Foreign Relations. She also heads the Space Department in her country. The agenda of talks with the top leadership will be on issues of mutual interest as well as identifying sectors for deepening trade and economic ties.
A senior officer who wished to remain anonymous said that “The two countries are likely to sign a MoU in Space Cooperation.”
Why is Colombia important for India?
The South American country is pro tempore presidency of Pacific Alliance, a grouping of four countries including — Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile. India is exploring new opportunities in the Pacific Alliance to achieve a target of USD 30 billion over the next few years.
For India which is an observer country in the grouping, the member countries are a regular source of copper and gold imports as well as crude oil. And “There is a huge potential in the development of more South-South cooperation projects,” a senior MEA official told Financial Express Online.
According to the ambassador of Colombia to India, Mariana Pacheco Montes, “The grouping is a member of the Indo-Pacific family.”
India-Colombia Space Cooperation
In 2018, Financial Express Online reported that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched the PSLV-C43/HysYS mission, which was a major boost for the Space Cooperation between the two countries. The South American Satellite which was launched was a co-passenger on board the PSLV-C43.
India-Colombia Bilateral Trade
Both India and Colombia are seeking to expand trade and investments in areas like pharmaceuticals (especially COVID-19 Vaccines), automobiles, IT, agriculture, Start-Ups, Urban planning & Development.
The two sides are in the process of finalizing the Joint Study for negotiating Partial Scope Agreement to enhance bilateral trade.
Visits to Central American countries
Later this month a high level official visit is expected to take place to the Central American nation El Salvador.
“Dates are yet to be confirmed. Most likely the visit will be from Sept 19-22 for Foreign Office Consultations in El Salvador,” a senior official quoted above said.
The focus will be on security solutions, agriculture, education, science and technology, defence cooperation as well traditional medicine and tourism.
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that later this year Foreign Ministers of SICA grouping are expected to take place. The meeting is expected to be hosted by India. Guatemala is the current Pro-tempore President of the Central American Integration system (SICA).